Joe says –
“If you aren't filing electronically, now isn't the time to cheap out. You ought to spring for the extra $5.10 to file your return ‘certified mail, return receipt requested’. It's well worth the time and trouble of going to the post office to get that postmarked receipt.”
I agree it was very important to make sure that your tax returns, or extension applications, were postmarked by midnight on April 18th. I point out the importance in my April 18th TAX TIP at MainStreet.com. However you shouldn’t waste your time by waiting on a humongous line or your money by paying extra for ‘certified mail, return receipt requested’.
You should not simply have put your envelopes in a mailbox on the street. You should have gone to a post office branch and mailed the envelopes inside the branch – more better actually handing the envelopes to a postal clerk at the window (if the line was not out the door).
But the extra you spend to get a return receipt is a total waste of money. It means absolutely nothing – only that the IRS received an envelope from you that was postmarked on April 18th. It doesn't hurt to do this (except your wallet) - but it really doesn't help either.
At one of the many continuing education seminars I attended years ago a participant told the story of a colleague who sent an envelope to the IRS, and his state tax agency, on the 15th of every month of the year, paying for “certified mail, return receipt requested”. This way, he believed, if any correspondence or form was ever actually sent late, or lost, or actually never sent, he would have a green card signed by the IRS or the state to prove that it had been timely filed and received by the IRS. The participant did not say if this strategy ever worked.
I believe the IRS will give more weight to a statement, given under penalty of perjury, that the envelope was delivered to the post office by the due date than to a return receipt card. As the above story indicated, all the green card indicates is that an envelope sent on the 15th, or 18th, of the month was received by the IRS – it does not indicate that the envelope contained the actual return or form in question.
I would be interested to hear from fellow tax preparers of any instances where the green return receipt card actually worked in proving timely filing to the IRS?